EL PASO, TEX. – Undefeated World Middleweight Champion and the Son of the Legend, JULIO CÉSAR CHÁVEZ, JR. returns to the boxing metropolis of El Paso, Texas for the first time in nearly six years, headlining “Viva Chávez!” on Saturday, June 16, at Sun Bowl Stadium. Chávez Jr., who will be making the third defense of the title he won last year, against No. 2-world-rated contender ANDY LEE, marks the first world championship fight to be held in Sun Bowl Stadium since June 13, 1998 when Oscar De La Hoya knocked out Patrick Charpentier in the second round to retain his welterweight crown. The Chávez Jr. vs. Lee world championship rumble will be televised live on HBO World Championship Boxing®, beginning at 10 p.m. ET.
Promoted by Top Rank, in association with Zanfer Promotions, DiBella Entertainment, AT&T and Tecate, tickets to the Chávez Jr. vs. Lee world title tilt go on sale Saturday April 28 at 2 p.m. ET / Noon MT. Tickets, priced at $200, $100, $60, $40 and $25, plus applicable service charges, can be purchased at the UTEP Ticket Center, all Ticketmaster outlets, online at www.ticketmaster.com and by phone at (915) 747-5234.
These two warriors boast a combined record of 73-1-1 (51 KOs) – a winning percentage of 97% and a victory by knockout ratio of 70%.
"I am facing a tough, difficult opponent in Andy Lee. This will be the toughest fight of my career," said Chávez, Jr.
“I am honored to have this opportunity. I have been waiting my whole life for this opportunity. It is going to be a great show,” said Lee. “I’d like to thank Emanuel Steward, Perry Mandera, my entire management team along with Lou DiBella and DiBella Entertainment for everything they have done to make this a reality. I also would like to extend a very special thank you to Top Rank and the Chávez Family and Freddie Roach. The Boxing World is going to see a World Class Fight!”
"This fight between Julio César Chávez Jr and Andy Lee is a remarkable one - two young, handsome warriors, from different parts of the world,” said Hall of Fame promoter Bob Arum. “Chávez Jr is from Mexico, Lee is from Ireland and each will be doing his best to make his country proud."
“I am thrilled that Andy Lee is getting his long-deserved shot at a middleweight championship,” said Lou DiBella, Lee’s promoter. “Julio César Chávez Jr. deserves credit for taking on the biggest challenge of his career. On June 16th a new champion will be crowned in El Paso, Texas.”
“Julio César Chávez Jr. vs. Andy Lee is a terrific matchup that will intrigue fight fans everywhere,” said Kery Davis, senior vice president of programming, HBO Sports. “With the Sun Bowl in El Paso as the backdrop this will be a very compelling and significant World Championship Boxing telecast.”
Chávez Jr. (45-0-1, 31 KOs), of Culiacan, México, making his first appearance in El Paso since August 19, 2006 when he knocked out Jermaine White in the fourth round of their welterweight bout, is the son of Mexico’s greatest fighter Julio César Chávez. Chávez, 26, took up the “family business” in 2003, winning a four-round decision in his professional debut. Eight years later, the reigning World Middleweight Champion and superior gate attraction is poised to make his own mark in the boxing world. He took a major step toward that goal by enlisting legendary trainer Freddie Roach to take him to the next level. Their first fight together was a gigantic success, a dominant 12-round unanimous decision victory over top-10 contender John Duddy (29-1, 18 KOs) in June 2010 at the Alamodome in San Antonio. After his January 29, 2011 unanimous decision win over Billy Lyell, Chávez Jr. became the second family member to win a world title, dethroning undefeated World Boxing Council (WBC) middleweight champion Sebastian Zbik via a majority decision. That June 4, 2011 slugfest took place at STAPLES Center in Los Angeles just a few blocks north of the Olympic Auditorium where the legendary Julio César Chávez won his first world title. Chávez Jr. successfully defended his title on November 19, 2011 with a fifth-round knockout of Top-Five contender Peter Manfredo, Jr. at Reliant Arena in Houston, followed by a hard-fought unanimous decision on February 4 over No. 1 contender Marco Antonio Rubio at the Alamodome.
Lee (28-1, 20 KOs), who at 6’2, is one inch taller than Chávez, Jr., was born in London but is Irish of heritage. Ireland’s sole boxing representative in the 2004 Olympics, Lee made his professional debut in 2006, winning a six-round decision over Anthony Cannon. Trained at the famed Kronk Gym in Detroit by Hall of Fame inductee Emanuel Steward, who has referred to Lee as “my left-handed Tommy Hearns,” Lee possesses exceptional skills, speed and movement, complemented by good punching power and experience against good opposition. He enters this fight riding a four-year, 13-bout winning streak with eight of those victories coming inside the distance, including a win over Bryan Vera last October to avenge the only loss on his professional ledger. He enters this fight as a consensus Top Three world-rated contender, ranked No. 2 by the World Boxing Association (WBA) and World Boxing Organization (WBO) and No. 3 by the WBC.
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STEPHEN SMITH DEFENDS TITLE IN LIVERPOOL
Liverpool star Stephen Smith returns to his home city on Friday 11th May to headline the Olympia, live on BoxNation (Sky Ch. 456/Virgin Ch. 546).
Smith will make the first defence of his WBO Intercontinental Super-Featherweight title against tough Spaniard Francisco Urena.
The 26-year-old is aiming to stay on track for a rematch with Lee Selby who inflicted the first loss on his record last September to take the Scouser’s British and Commonwealth titles in one of the biggest domestic upsets of last year.
He roared back with back-to-back first round wins over Arpad Vass in February and Ben Jones last month to win the title and he’ll be keeping an eye on rival Selby who defends his titles two weeks later in Newport.
And the Liverpool FC fanatic will be looking to make it a hat-trick of first rounders against Urena who has never been stopped in 21 fights.
Smith said, “I’m looking forward to returning to Liverpool to fight in front of my loyal home fans again and give them a good performance to show that I’m back to my best,”
“Urena looks like a tough challenger, but I haven’t seen too much of him yet, from what I’ve heard he likes to come forward which will play into my hands,”
“It would be great to stop him in the first round, like the last two have gone, but I don’t go in looking to end things early it’s just the way things have worked out and if I see an opening I go for it,”
“Of course, I want the fight with Selby again to have the chance to reclaim my titles and to put things right and I know I’ll get him down the line,”
“I’m fighting regularly, keeping sharp and improving all the time so when I do face him I’ll beat him.”
The Olympia undercard features unbeaten super-middleweight Rocky Fielding in an eight-rounder; unbeaten light-middleweight prospect Joe Selkirk; Ellesmere Port super-flyweight Paul Butler, plus Liverpool’s Andy Coulqhoun and Lyndon Newman.
Tickets are priced at £30, £40 and £60 and are available from Frank Warren Promotions on 01992 550 888 and Olympia Box Office on 0151 263 6633.
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IN DEPTH WITH PAUL BUTLER
Hot prospect Paul Butler features on Stephen Smith’s undercard at the Liverpool Olympia on Friday 11th May, live on BoxNation (Sky Ch. 456/Virgin Ch. 546).
The Ellesmere Port star, who won the Senior ABA title in 2010, has racked up a perfect 6-0 record and will feature next in an eight-round contest as he moves towards his first title shot.
Boxing writer Glynn Evans talks to Butler about his background and career.
Name: Paul Butler
Division: Super Flyweight
Family background: I’m the youngest of four. I’ve an older brother and two older sisters. My brother started boxing but was involved in a bad car accident when he was seven so had to stop. I live in Ellesmere Port which is about nine miles from Chester and a 20 minute drive from Liverpool. I’ve a girlfriend but no kids yet.
Trade: I’m a full time boxer since I turned pro in 2010.
Nickname: ‘Baby Faced Assassin.’
What age did you become interested in boxing and why? Since the age of seven or eight I was absolutely football daft but would always sit and watch ‘Fight Night Live’ with me dad who’s boxing mad, on Friday and Saturday nights. Dad always used to go: ‘Don’t you fancy that, son?’ I finally decided to give it a go and started at the Vauxhall Motors boxing gym when I was about ten.
What do you recall of your amateur career? I stayed at Vauxhall from starting at 10 until I turned pro after winning the ABAs at 21. I was coached by Peter ‘Macca’ Phelan who also brought through (ex British, Commonwealth and European bantam king) Paul Lloyd and (three time English ABA bantam champion) Nick McDonald. Nick beat ‘em all, Kevin Mitchell, Stephen Smith.....
I had about 90 bouts and lost about 20 odd. I won the Junior ABAs, Junior Four Nations and the NACYPs once each and went in the senior ABAs four times, finally winning at 51KG (flyweight) in 2010. First year, when I was just 17, I lost in the final to Khalid Yafai who’d just won the World Cadets. In 2008 and 2009 I lost two close and controversial decisions to Tommy Stubbs of Oldham, once on a double countback, the other by a single point. Tom and me still have a lot of banter about those fights. Everybody says I was robbed....both times!
In 2010, I finally won the title without losing a round the whole campaign. In the final I beat Adam Whitfield of the Army by 11 points to one. That was definitely the highlight of my amateur career cos I’d waited so long, and by that point, didn’t really want to be in the amateurs any more. Getting my hand raised after the final was the best feeling ever.
I was on the Team GB squad up in Sheffield for two years, the last six months on the Podium squad but I had a fall-out with (head coach) Terry Edwards over fluctuations with my weight. I boxed for England or Great Britain 30 times and got a bronze at ‘The Good Luck’ tournament in Beijing, just before the 2008 Olympics. I went to the 2008 Olympic qualifier in Italy but lost narrowly to a Turk. They then chose Darren Langley ahead of me for the final qualifying tournament in Greece, which was annoying cos I’d just beaten Langley in a multi-nations in Sheffield. I also beat John Joe Nevin in a multi-nations over in Ireland. That was another highlight, given what he’s gone on to do since. (Nevin has won two bronze medals at the World Senior Championships)
Looking back, I’m happy with what I achieved. I particularly loved boxing on packed Vauxhall Motors club shows. Even now, I still really miss that.
Why did you decide to turn pro when you did? I’d known for a while that the computer scoring of the amateurs weren’t for me. I liked to let the body shots go and they seldom registered. Also in the amateurs there was a lot of politics. I felt selection often came down to favouritism rather than who was best.
Tell us about your back up team: I’m managed and promoted by Frank Warren and coached by (Anthony) ‘Arnie’ Farnell. I approached him six weeks after winning the ABAs cos I was really impressed by how he’d got Frankie Gavin right for the pros; how he’d added to him rather than attempted to change him.
People expect Arnie to get his fighters to ‘rough’ opponents up because that’s how he’d fought but he’s far more technical. He also brings in top quality sparring for me, kids like Scott Quigg and Gary Davies. Arnie’s brother Greg takes care of my strength and conditioning and I get my nutrition stuff from Kerry Kayes, a top bloke.
What’s your training schedule? Which parts do you most and least enjoy? I had a fortnight off after my last fight because I got a cut but I’m constantly in the gym. Monday to Friday, I train for an hour and a half to two hours at ‘Arnie’s’ gym. I train even longer if I’ve got a (fight) date. Six nights a week I run for an hour. I take Sunday off.
At the gym, I warm up with a bit of shadow and skipping, then loosen up my arms on a bag. I’ll do a dozen three and a half minute rounds with just 30 seconds rest on the pads, some sharp weights then finish with 10 minutes on the step climber before stretching out. Tuesdays and Thursdays I fit in a circuit.
I spar with kids like Nick McDonald, Scott Quigg, Gary Davies, Shinny Bayaar plus some heavier lads. That’s the part I like most. You get to put into practise the things you’ve been learning on the pads.
I generally love all training. I really look forward to it and, whenever I have to miss it, I sit around in a mood. That said, I really hate running without my ear phones in and the bags can get a bit boring and repetitive.
Describe your style? What are your best qualities? I’m definitely more a boxer but I’ve loads in the tank and I can ‘dig in’ and show a nasty side when it’s needed. I prefer to work off the jab and go downstairs. If you war, your career won’t last as long.
What specifically do you need to work on to fully optimise your potential as a fighter? I need the experience of a 10 round fight, maybe for an English title or against a tough European. I need to be asked a couple of questions but I know I’ll answer them.
What have you found to be the biggest difference between the pro and amateur codes? The amateurs was a little sprint. In the pros you get more time to pick shots and plant your feet. Some say the pace of the pros is slower but I try not to let it be. I’m really fit and always try to keep the pace up. Opponents expect me to blow out but I never do.
Who is the best opponent that you’ve shared a ring with? That would be the Mexican (Braulia Avila) who beat me in that ‘Good Luck Beijing’ pre-Olympic tournament in Beijing in November 2007. I seldom watch opponents before I fight them but when I watched him he seemed slow and flat footed. I thought I was in for an easy night but it was anything but. He could make that little half step that always put him in range to let his shots go. He beat me 26-14. Class fighter.
All time favourite fighter: Marco Antonio Barrera. He could do everything; went to war with Morales then outclassed Naseem Hamed using his boxing skills. I met him recently. He came to a ‘do’ at our amateur club.
All time favourite fight: Barrera-Morales I
Which current match would you most like to see made? Nonito Donaire against Guillermo Rigondeaux. There’s a lot of hype around the both of them. I think Rigondeaux wins. Donaire’s not what he was at super flyweight.
What is your routine on fight day? I’ll get up between ten and eleven and just relax. If Liverpool (FC) are being televised, I’ll watch that with a mate or me girlfriend. Me Dad doesn’t like me doing it but I like to play a game of snooker. Dad says I need to be resting.
I feel ready rather than nervous. I usually like to arrive at the venue a couple of hours before I’m scheduled to fight so I’ve plenty of time to get bandaged up and get focussed. I’m pretty relaxed and like to have a laugh, even though I know I’ve got a job to do.
Entrance music: ‘You’ll Never Walk Alone’ or ‘Sweet Caroline’. Something to get the crowd going.
What are your ambitions as a boxer? My main goal is to win the Lonsdale Belt outright. I’d like a British title shot this summer then, after a couple more years, take a look at world titles.
How do you relax? I like me sports; watching them on the tele or playing snooker. I still have a game of six-a-side on Astroturf on a Thursday – I play up front – and I’m a ‘fair weather’ golfer in the summer. I played off (a handicap of) six when I was only 16 but I’ve let it slip.
Football team: Liverpool. It’s pretty hard to get tickets but I went to Wembley for the Carling Cup Final in the Cardiff end. There were loads of Reds in there and a lot of fighting broke out when Liverpool scored so I decided not to celebrate our second goal!
Read: I’ve only read one book in my life, Stevie Gerrard’s autobiography. I get the Boxing News every week.
Music: Mostly dance music plus some of the old stuff like The Beatles and Oasis.
Films/TV: I like films you have to try to work out, plus comedies. ‘Phone Booth’ (with Colin Farrell and Kiefer Sutherland) is one of my favourites. On TV, I like Celebrity Juice plus Only Fools and Horses.
Aspiration in life: A world title. It’s what I’ve always wanted to achieve.
Motto: Pain Is Temporary, Glory is Forever. I’m having it tattooed across my shoulder blades.
Stephen Smith’s WBO Intercontinental Super-Featherweight title defence against Francisco Urena on Friday 11th May will be live and exclusive on BoxNation (Sky Ch. 456/Virgin Ch. 546).
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